2020 has significantly changed the way people were able to allocate their free time. Lockdowns, quarantines and social distancing have created a wide variety of new hobbies, acquired skills and unprecedented levels of procrastination. From sour dough to learning a foreign language or binge-watching the latest Netflix series, everybody seems to have picked up a new pastime. However, none more exotic than the leisure activity that Swizz Beatz picked up last year …

The legendary producer entered the sport of camel racing last fall and actually became fairly successful at it right away. As a matter of fact, he is the first American (or westerner for that matter) to win a camel race in Saudi Arabia. His team, Kasseem Abu Nasser, named after his birth name, already took home five medals … and Swizz Beatz is celebrating the accomplishment with a special Chinatown Market collaboration.

Continue reading for excerpts from an interview with Variety, in which the 42-year-old explains how he got into the sport, why he named his twelve camels after members of his family and why the Ruff Ryders logo was the obvious choice for the camels’ racing attire.

What made you want a camel team to begin with?

I had it in my mind for so long. My friends out there have teams, friends’ parents’ families in Dubai have teams. That’s how I had access to knowing what to look for, how to pick your fleet, understand the bloodline, find the best trainers. I did extensive research and was there for a month straight doing it. I had the heads-up for a while but didn’t push the button until COVID. It sounded big, amazing and a lot of work, but I just wanted to do it. It feels like it came fast, but it was a long process.

How were you able to enter this race as a first-time team owner so quickly?

That’s the thing, it wasn’t that quick. I’ve kept it quiet until I understood everything that I had to about the camels and racing. I did my homework. That said, this is something I was always interested in. Any time I go to the Middle East, I see camel racing. I come back home and never see anything about the sport. Watching them race, it’s always a celebration — like the NBA. I started knowing the teams by their jackets and the coverings that the camels had on. I got to know the teams, their reputations. So for my birthday, I had a goal: to make it happen, to buy a team. This was something my whole family could participate in.

How will we know your team when we see it?

That’s easy, the Ruff Ryder “R” [referencing the label Swizz came up on, with DMX, Eve and others]. I did that on purpose so that people would know me.

Continue reading the interview over at Variety or reminisce over the original Ruff Ryders chapter with BET’s multi-part documentary series “Ruff Ryders Chronicles” with the full-length pilot episode below:

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